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Friday, December 04, 2020

Daily briefing: Scholarship scam spreads to Bihar, ropes in school from Punjab too; Govt forms panel to look into TRP system

The top headlines this morning: the US presidential race heads for a photo finish, the Jharkhand Scholarship Scam has crossed state borders, and an Indian tennis player recounts the horrific Vienna terror attack.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | November 5, 2020 8:42:46 am
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Good morning,

US Elections 2020

The US presidential results were unlike anything candidate Joe Biden and the Democrats have hoped. They weren’t an overwhelming repudiation of President Donald Trump and his policies. The race, instead, turned into a nail-biter with no clear winner emerging even more than 24 hours after polling ended. Key battleground states, however, began to slowly turn Blue as counting progressed, narrowing down Trump’s path to the White House. Track all the latest updates here.

Meanwhile, inside a bar in Pennsylvania, not far from Biden’s home, local residents keenly followed the results on TV as the evening turned to night. The race could boil down to Pennsylvania, one of the swing states, with a result not expected until Friday.

From The Front Page

In a remarkable parallel with the Jharkhand Scholarship Scam, uncovered by The Indian Express in a three-part investigation series, several cases of the pre-Matric scholarship meant for minority students was siphoned off by middlemen in Bihar and Punjab.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet, along with “five trunks” of supporting documents, in the case of alleged money laundering against the former managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar, and Videocon Group chief Venugopal Dhoot, among others.

Six Days Of Separation: A strong room holding EVMs in Patna, after the second phase of the Assembly elections. [PTI]

Decision 2020

The RJD might be making a serious effort to woo voters outsider its Muslim-Yadav base, but the spectre of “jungle raj” still weighs heavily on the minds of upper castes and non-Yadav OBC’s, EBCs and Mahadalits. The voter who is looking for change is searching for an “Arvind Kejriwal-type” option, a “teesri vikalp” — a (third) alternative with a clean slate.

As the Mahagathbandhan takes heart from the crowds flocking to RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s rallies, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is banking on his “silent voters” — women and EBCs. The Nitish government has assiduously courted both, and believe that though not as vocal or visible as the others and hence not registering in the various poll analyses, they continue to stand by it.

Must Read

Union Home Minister Amit Shah was scheduled to visit a tribal family in Bankura district and a Bangladeshi refugee family from the Matua community in Kolkata during his two-day visit, starting today. But just before he could, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reached out to these very two communities with a string of incentives and financial aid.

Following the arrest of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, the NCP, which is in alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, has demanded that former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis be made a co-accused in the case pertaining to the suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik.

“I was thinking about going there on Monday night as well, but I just felt a bit lazy to step out.”: Indian tennis player Sasikumar Mukund recalls the horrific terror attack which took place barely two kilometres away from his house in Vienna, Austria, and in which four people were killed while one suspect was shot dead.

Express Editorial: While there could be disagreement with Arnab Goswami’s journalism and his penchant for becoming the watchdog on behalf of the establishment and the powerful, the Maharashtra police needs to explain several things: What new evidence did it find in the 2018 suicide case that warranted Goswami’s immediate arrest? Why this made-for-camera show of intimidation when a mere summons would have served the purpose?

Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami after his arrest, at Alibaug in Raigad on Wednesday.


  • The first-ever elections to the newly conceived District Development Councils in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be held over eight phases beginning November 28
  • The Kerala government has decided to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI to probe cases in the state and investigations will now be handed over only with special permission of the state.
  • Three days after beginning commercial operations, the seaplane service between Statue of Unity and Ahmedabad was suspended on Wednesday for a “routine maintenance” of the aircraft.
  • The Centre has announced a four-member committee, to be headed by Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati, to look into the Television Rating Points (TRP) system.
  • Twelve persons were killed in a major blast that ripped through a chemical boiler factory in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

And Finally

A dog, two boys, and a filmmaker from Pune called Vinod Sam Peter swept the top honours at the World Premiere Film Awards in California on October 31. Peter took the Best Director award while the boys and the dog won hearts as the protagonists of the Best Film, Puglya.

Delhi Confidential: The Congress has three Rajya Sabha MPs from Punjab, and all three senior leaders—Ambika Soni, Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo—were missing at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s symbolic dharna at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.

🎧 In today’s episode of Three Things Podcast, we discuss the letter from the Department of Military Affairs that has proposed a drastic cut in pension for officers seeking premature retirement from service and an increase in retirement age.

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